Are The Seahawks Contenders In The NFC?

They’re sucking me in, man! I still can’t say that I’m all the way there yet, even though we’re 5-3 and in first place in the NFC West by a full game. Even though we just beat the 6-win Giants a week after a pretty convincing road victory over the probably playoff-bound Chargers.

But, I’m getting there. At some point, the Seahawks are going to keep winning football games, and I’m going to have no choice but to believe. At least believe in something. Is this a championship-contending team? PROBABLY not. I still think the Bills, Eagles, and Chiefs are the class of the NFL. I would also say that Dallas most likely beats us in any sort of meaningful contest. And, sure, we’ll lose other games to other teams as well. But, when you flip it and ask, “Who could the Seahawks beat on any given Sunday?” The answer is pretty considerable. I think we’re getting to the point where there isn’t a team we couldn’t hypothetically defeat. But, if you had me choose, I think those aforementioned four teams would be my pick 100 out of 100 times.

I also don’t want to take away anything from the Giants – I did have them ranked in the top tier of my power rankings last week – but they’re clearly a flawed team. Why anyone would have a team with Daniel Jones in their top tier is anyone’s guess. But, they also do a lot of things well. They run the ball with the best of ’em. They play defense at a great clip. They block for their quarterback, who can scramble around and make just enough plays to be somewhat effective (as long as he’s not fumbling or otherwise giving the ball away to the other team).

And yet the Giants were really out-classed by the Seahawks in this one. It was a 27-13 victory, but it could’ve been so much more without some uncharacteristic mistakes by Tyler Lockett (who had a critical fumble and a dropped touchdown, before redeeming himself with a TD in the fourth quarter).

Geno Smith wasn’t exactly electric in this one (23 of 34 for 212, 2 TDs, and 0 INTs), but he was also under duress for the entire game. And we never really got our running game going, though Walker did salvage his day with a late 16-yard TD run. But, the defense once again made some real hay!

We had 5 sacks on the day – 2 by Nwosu, who is absolutely the real deal, in all facets of the game – and likely would’ve held the Giants’ offense without a touchdown if it weren’t for the muffed punt by Lockett. Tariq Woolen is already a guy teams are avoiding throwing against (I don’t think he was targeted until the second half in this one), and with the adjustments we’ve made up front (with the D-Line being more aggressive and attacking single gaps as opposed to trying to play two gaps like they were early in the season), we’ve gotten opposing running games under control, while letting the players do what they’re best at. We held Saquon Barkley to 53 yards on 20 carries for crying out loud!

So, that begs the question: can the Seahawks compete in the NFC? Are we really doing this?!

Look, I had legitimate questions about this team winning three games all year. Yet, here we are, having won three in a row, and four of our last five. On the horizon, there are opponents who were quite scary heading into the season, who now look like potential cannon fodder. Could I see us winning in Arizona next week? You mean, our home away from home? Absolutely I could! Could we beat the Bucs in Germany? Yes, very much so, they’ve looked horrible this season. Can we take down the Raiders, Rams, Panthers, Jets, and 49ers at home? Why not? The hardest game looks to be at Kansas City on Christmas Eve, but I remember us playing Patrick Mahomes pretty tough the last time we faced them, so I wouldn’t throw that out either.

The Seahawks can very much compete in this NFC. That doesn’t mean I’m all in. They could also struggle against the Rams like they always do. The 49ers still look like they’re loaded on both sides of the ball. And I don’t think there’s any catching the Eagles this year for the one seed.

So, what I’m really saying is that it’s all still on the table. We could keep winning and get as high as the two seed. Or, we could fall apart again and drop out of the playoffs. But, I’m willing to put my faith in at least a wild card run, with a very good chance at winning the suddenly questionable NFC West.

What can’t be denied is that this is a fun team, and a fun development. When your expectations are nil, and the team you root for comes from out of nowhere to not only compete, but look really good doing it? On top of being a very young team, and watching those young players compete at a high level? It’s great! This is as close to an ideal outcome as you could get.

Starting this week, I’m coming at this season with a new mindset. I’m out of Tank Mode. That was really ripped away from me anyway, so it would be foolish to root for tanking now. I’m also ready to climb down off of the fence. I don’t know if I’ve taken the Seahawks once this year in my pick ’em league, always expecting the other shoe to eventually drop. But, now I have to treat this team like I would any other above-average team. They’re good. They have a lot going for them. They can beat anyone. Now it’s time to invest. It’s time to start rooting for wins, rooting for us to take down the division, rooting for various playoff scenarios.

This is a gift. An unexpected pleasant surprise. So, it’s time to start really relishing in our great fortune. It’s been a rough last few years, with everything in decline and only Russell Wilson there to prop up our hopes. Oddly enough, it turns out, he was also the one holding us back. Now, we’re free from that see-saw, and it’s all good vibes going forward. Everything is gravy. So, let’s fuck around and see what happens!

The Discourse Around Russell Wilson Makes Me Uncomfortable

Right off the bat, I’d like to point out that I’m as guilty of it as anyone. I’m no scold; I’ll own up to it: I’m delighting in the struggles of Russell Wilson.

This goes beyond rooting against the Broncos because we have their top two picks next year, though that plays a HUGE part in it. But, there’s something about Russell Wilson that rubs me the wrong way. So, I’m sort of relishing in the numbers being thrown around on Twitter, I’m laughing at the mocking of the front he puts on for the media and his weird videos/commercials, and I’m even a little smug about his injury issues (as if I could see it coming and I’m saying to no one “I told you so”).

Russell Wilson is kind of a fascinating character (and I say that intentionally; I think he’s playing a character in front of everyone, at least when it comes to his professional and public self), because there’s so much awkward weird robotic-ness that we can see, there are so many stories bandied about him behind the scenes, there are even more whispers about him that are maybe-rumors/maybe-lies/maybe-truths, and then there’s just so much that we absolutely don’t know. We don’t know what he’s like behind closed doors, with close friends and family (and advisors and agents and lawyers and hangers on). This could just be who he is with everyone, and everyone puts up with it because he makes them a lot of money. Or, he could be a total 180 of a person in his private life.

We also don’t know what it’s like to be in Russell Wilson’s head. He’s had this persona drilled into him from such a young age, it might be impossible to ever know the difference. Maybe there’s a little internal Russ that was proverbially beaten out of him at a young age, to the point where he just doesn’t know how to interact with human beings. He’s seen video of humans interacting. He’s watched others around him. He can sort of emulate human actions, human speech, human emotions. But, the driven part of his personality – the overwhelming majority of the internal Russell Wilson – just absorbs everything.

He sounds insufferable. It also sounds exhausting to be him. Not just from a workout perspective, but from a lifestyle perspective. He can’t just be a regular dude in his down time. He’s gotta be Russell Wilson, Professional Professional.

At the same time, he doesn’t seem like a bad guy. Now, who knows, right? There could be plenty of sinister skeletons in his closet featuring a bevy of alleged crimes. But, really, he seems like an okay person. He visits kids in children’s hospitals. Granted, that’s part of this persona he concocted; he’s not just the wannabe NFL Hall of Famer, but he’s the Children’s Hospital Guy. Nevertheless, he does it! He follows through. To a lot of fanfare at first, and then to little-to-no fanfare after a while. Week-in and week-out. Presumably; I’m not the keeper of Russell Wilson’s schedule. I haven’t heard anything to the contrary though.

He reminds me a lot of Michael Jackson, minus all the alleged diddling. But, we’re talking about guys who never really got to have childhoods, who were conditioned from a very young age to be in front of cameras and to be in front of thousands of adoring fans. We’re talking about people who reached the heights of their professions, who have the drive to be the very best, but at an obvious personal price. Obviously, Michael Jackson came out much more fucked up than Russell Wilson, but I would argue there’s real damage to Wilson’s development. You gotta wonder: does he have childhood friends? Or, was he always more emotionally attuned to being around adults? Was he the kid who was better friends with his coaches and teachers than his fellow players and students? Or worse, did he used to have a bunch of childhood friends and maintained a lot of normal relationships growing up, only to eschew them once he advanced through college and into the pros? I don’t know what’s sadder, but I would give almost any amount of money to get a sit-down with his ex-wife and listen to her tell stories for three hours.

Part of me feels bad for him, but like I keep saying, I don’t know him at all. He could be a colossal dick for all I know! Regardless, he doesn’t seem to be very grounded. There are plenty of mega-celebs out there who can make themselves look very down to earth and “everyman”. Russell Wilson is not one of them.

I don’t hate Russell Wilson. I don’t even dislike him. I’m pretty neutral on the persona he throws out there, and even if he is a phony, he still does enough good things (or, at least, not-bad things) to make himself likable. Okay, so he doesn’t get along or even try to associate with teammates. Okay, so his personality rubs some media people the wrong way. He’s not Opinionated Aaron Rodgers. He’s not Folksy Peyton Manning. He’s not Unfiltered Charles Barkley. Hell, he’s not even Tom Brady (who’s about as guarded as it gets, yet can still be charming as all get-out when he wants to be). That doesn’t make him a villain.

And oh, by the way, he also helped lead the Seahawks to their only Super Bowl championship (and two of their three appearances). Was he the be-all/end-all of quarterbacks? No, but he’s still the best we’ve ever had. Was the single-handedly the reason why those teams were good and we won all those games? Of course not, there were a lot of future Hall of Famers on those teams (and otherwise very good players) who gave us the magic elixir to win at such a high rate. But, I will say that we couldn’t have swapped Russell Wilson out for just anyone. We still needed his very specific magic to pull off what we were able to pull off. I refuse to discount everything he’s ever done to bring the Seahawks to greatness just because he’s been on the downslide of his career for the last few seasons.

I agree wholeheartedly with the decision to trade Russell Wilson. I think the Seahawks are in a much better place now. If I’m being honest, I think the rebuild started maybe a year or two too late. I also – not for nothing – probably would’ve gotten over it if we’d never offered him that third contract. If we had been able to draft a Josh Allen or a Patrick Mahomes, I would’ve gladly moved on way back when. I was worried about Russell Wilson being a potential problem back when he was on his rookie deal. I wish I could pull it, because I remember specifically writing about how all of these guys become me-first divas. They start worrying more about their stats and their legacy than they do about winning. Russell Wilson was never going to be the game manager Pete Carroll wanted him to be. He wasn’t even a game manager back when the Seahawks were competing for Super Bowls, but he was also much more willing to play within the conservative system we’d set up around him. Starting with 2015 and beyond, it became more about his quest for MVP votes. And, unfortunately for him, you can’t buy those, and you can’t win them in a popularity contest. You have to earn them on the field. And, more often than not, it was Russell Wilson’s own failing that prevented him from taking that next step.

That being said, for the most part, I relished every minute that Russell Wilson was a Seattle Seahawk. He was fun as hell to watch! The way he was able to elude pressure and generate huge plays down field will be something I never forget. He might not be an MVP, he might not even make the Hall of Fame when it’s all said and done, but he has a Hall of Fame highlight reel that you could put up against any of the all-time greats. I’m not kidding. There’s never been a Seahawk with a better set of highlights. There might not be anyone else in the NFL today who can top Russ. Maybe Mahomes, but I would argue the variety of plays we’ve seen out of Wilson is unmatched. Not just in blowouts, not just in random Sunday afternoon home games, but in the biggest moments, on the biggest stages, with the whole world watching.

So, why do I have such schadenfreude towards him?

It’s a real primal reaction, I should say that. There’s very little logic to it, given the way I’ve laid it out today. I imagine it’s the way one would feel about an ex who’s moved on. Maybe you didn’t part on the best of terms, but it also wasn’t the messiest divorce either. Nevertheless, there’s an animal inside of you who wants them to be forever suffering with regret for shunning you the way they did.

To be fair, there’s very little logic to being a fan of sports teams period! So, this falls right in line with that. You don’t want to play for the Seahawks anymore? Then fuck you, I hope you’re miserable for the rest of your days.

There’s also part of me that relishes in being right. Everyone has to pick a side in any argument nowadays, and I staked my claim pretty publicly that I think the Seahawks are in the right – sticking with Pete and John – and I’d rather head into a rebuild with those two guys making the calls, over a new front office catering to Russell Wilson’s every whim. I wanted no part in a Russell Wilson contract that saw him earning upwards of $50 million a year. I wanted no part in another protracted negotiating year of back-and-forth leaked sniping to the media ahead of an inevitable contract extension. And I wanted no part of an older, slower, less accurate Russell Wilson in the twilight of his career.

Really, I was done with the whole online discourse. The chicken or the egg argument of who’s at fault, Pete Carroll for holding Russ back, or Russell Wilson for not playing within our offensive system. A system, mind you, that he personally vouched for and approved, in bringing over Shane Waldron from the Rams. Let’s just be done with it and find out once and for all.

And, not to toot my own horn or anything, but at this early juncture it seems like the right moves were made. Get rid of Russell Wilson, acquire lots of draft picks, and use all your draft picks to bolster the rest of this roster ahead of the next great Seahawks quarterback.

The only question that remains is: will that Next Great Seahawks Quarterback be someone who’s been here all along – Geno Smith – or will it be whoever we look to draft next year? I think that’s a legitimate question that will only get murkier in the coming months.

One answer to a question no one asked – who is better, Russell Wilson or Geno Smith – appears to be answered before our very eyes. I’ve seen plenty of Wilson in a Broncos jersey to date this season, and both my eyes and the numbers bear it out: Geno Smith in a landslide. Not that I’m the biggest Geno Believer or anything, but that’s pretty cool to see.

It’s fun to be a Seahawks fan again. I wasn’t able to say that all the time in recent years. And, if you base fun on a team’s ability to compete at a championship level, then this team hasn’t been fun since 2015 (not that we’re a potential championship team this year, but that’s just illustrative of long we’ve been waning in this league). We were always in it for the playoffs and the division (until 2021), but we never felt like a legitimate contender in all those years since. It felt more like we needed an unsustainable amount of Russell Wilson wizardry pulling our asses out of the fire for things to go our way.

Lo and behold, all that time, we never realized how much Russell Wilson was actually putting us INTO those fires he tried so desperately to then pull us out of. Was he doing it intentionally? Was he that psycho mom who poisons her child, just so they have to depend on her nursing them back to health? Maybe not consciously, but I’m sure he didn’t hate being the hero to pull everyone to safety, while at the same time being falsely modest afterwards. I’m willing to believe Russell Wilson is a pretty big narcissist; him being humble is part of the act I just don’t buy. He might not feel comfortable talking himself up, but I bet he loves it when everyone else does.

Well, no one’s talking him up now. Quite the contrary. Everyone’s all too happily digging his grave. At some point, it’ll come around to being sad again. But now? This year? Let’s bury the motherfucker. The Seahawks could use a top 5 draft pick, and they’re sure as shit not going to get there with their own draft placement!

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2022: Screwed By The Pats

I don’t even know what to say. I had him! I had The Lance Petemans in my sights. I had a lead heading into Monday night, I had Mac Jones in my lineup. He had a Patriots receiver who ended up with just over 11 points, and a kicker who got all of 2 points. I just needed a normal fucking game and I would’ve had my second victory in a row. Instead, I got a crap quarter out of Mac Jones before he got benched, netting me negative points out of my second quarterback spot. And I lost 117.74 to 108.85, in a pathetic display by both teams.

It didn’t help that D.K. Metcalf got injured after 1 catch for 12 yards. But, really, other than that quarterback spot, my moves were sound! I got over 28 out of Walker, I got over 17 out of Zeke, I got 10+ out of Brian Robinson and CeeDee Lamb. I even picked up a defense – the Steelers, who got me 3 points at the last minute, when they were my only option left on the free agent scrap heap Sunday afternoon – by dropping the very disappointing Romeo Doubs.

But, who could’ve expected Justin Fields would end up with over 25 points?! On the road, on Monday night, in New England, who is supposed to have this great defense! What in the actual fuck?!

Well, maybe I should’ve seen this coming. Outside of Bears fans, no one is following Fields closer than me; this is his third 20+ point game in a row. If he does it against Dallas next week, I think I’ll have to start him the rest of the way; that defense is ACTUALLY great, and will be the test of all tests for Fields’ fantasy viability.

This week, I’m going up against You Dropped Your Dildo, who won last week in spite of starting Carson Wentz (who was on the IR) and a tight end on BYE, even though he had Dak Prescott on his bench, and could have picked up a tight end simply by putting Wentz in the IR slot on his roster. Something tells me he’s going to look at his lineup THIS week, in time to fill his other QB spot, as well as put Jonathan Taylor back into his lineup for Austin Ekeler (who is on BYE, thank Christ).

Here’s my projected lineup:

  • Davis Mills (QB) vs. Ten
  • QB Patriots (QB) @ NYJ
  • CeeDee Lamb (WR) vs. Chi
  • Gabe Davis (WR) vs. GB
  • Ezekiel Elliott (RB) vs. Chi
  • Kenneth Walker (RB) vs. NYG
  • T.J. Hockenson (TE) vs. Mia
  • Brian Robinson (RB) @ Ind
  • Evan McPherson (K) @ Cle
  • Philadelphia (DEF) vs. Pit

I can’t, in good conscience, start Fields against the Cowboys. He’s going to get picked off like 4 times and their offense will generate all of 3 points. If he manages to get over 20 points again, then I’ll happily eat crow and start him the rest of the way.

D.K. gets to sit on my bench for a while, until he’s healthy again. Pollard is actually projected to outscore Zeke, and for once I think I’m going to buy it. Zeke looks a little banged up this week, and even though he’s still projected to start, I’m not taking any chances when it comes to someone playing hurt. If there’s a healthy option – who’s also more talented and overall better – then I’m going to choose the healthy option.

I picked up the Philly defense, which leaps to the top of my team as far as points-scoring is concerned. Do you know how bad your team has to be for your defense to be the highest scoring entity? Just think about that. I like how a top 5 fantasy defense is going to languish on the very worst team in our league. Anytime I can stick it to the rest of the league, I’m all for it!

I tried to pick up Sam Ehlinger, but he was apparently a priority waiver add for someone else. He’s probably going to stink, but I hate it when I miss out on a potential quarterback solution. No one needs a QB more than me! I should have first crack at all of these losers! So, now I have to root against this guy, while dreading what he might become.

Here’s who I Dropped My Dildo has going this week (I swear he only came up with that name so I’d have to type it out on this blog):

  • Lamar Jackson (QB) @ TB
  • Dak Prescott (QB) vs. Chi
  • Jaylen Waddle (WR) @ Det
  • Ja’Marr Chase (WR) vs. Cle
  • Jonathan Taylor (RB) vs. Was
  • Darrell Henderson (RB) vs. SF
  • Tyler Higbee (TE) vs. SF
  • Terry McLaurin (WR) @ Ind
  • Brett Maher (K) vs. Chi
  • Denver (DEF) @ Jax

You want to see another blowout of epic proportions? Come and watch our matchup this week! I am, of course, projecting who he’s going to start, since he still hasn’t updated anything. But, that’s a massacre. Even if he doesn’t update his roster, I’m probably fucked!

Seattle Sports Hell 2022 NFL Power Rankings

This is a weird year in the NFL. I like to do my rankings split up into tiers: high, medium-high, medium, and low. Who would’ve predicted that there’d be three out of four NFC East teams in my high tier?! It’s crazy.

Anyway, I don’t really follow along with other power rankings, so I don’t know what anyone else is saying. This is all my own gut talking to me; I have no one to blame but myself for how wrong the following turns out to be.

High Tier

1 – Buffalo Bills
2 – Philadelphia Eagles
3 – Kansas City Chiefs
4 – Dallas Cowboys
5 – New York Giants
6 – Minnesota Vikings

I’m sure if anyone read this, I’d catch some flak for having the Bills over the Eagles, but I don’t care. I believe in the Bills. I know the Eagles are great, but if push came to shove and they had to play on a neutral field, I think the Bills would prevail. I also think that if there was a Super High tier, there would be a top 3 and there’d be everyone else. The Vikings for me are a bubble team in this tier, but with only one loss, I gotta give it up.

Medium-High Tier

7 – Cincinnati Bengals
8 – Miami Dolphins
9 – Baltimore Ravens
10 – Tennessee Titans
11 – L.A. Chargers
12 – New York Jets

The Bengals have had a pretty tough schedule, and there’s no forgiving that loss to the Steelers, but otherwise they were kind of on the bubble too. Ultimately, they get dinged for that week one circus show. I also think the Dolphins are one of the great ones, but they need to stay healthy and go on a run. The Ravens and Titans are always right there, a tough game against any opponent. I hate having the Jets rated this high, because I’m unimpressed by their team or their strength of schedule. But, they’re getting it done against the mediocre-to-bad teams, so they go here for now. The Chargers have room to improve on my list, but they’ll probably lose just enough to remain right where they are the whole year.

Medium Tier

13 – San Francisco 49ers
14 – L.A. Rams
15 – Green Bay Packers
16 – Tampa Bay Bucs
17 – Atlanta Falcons
18 – Seattle Seahawks
19 – Arizona Cardinals
20 – Las Vegas Raiders
21 – Indianapolis Colts
22 – Chicago Bears
23 – New England Patriots

A lot of teams in this tier who we expected to be MUCH better before the season started. But, these are teams with big flaws that have cost them in the standings. The 49ers are cursed by some injury demon. The Rams are cursed by a lack of depth. The Packers are cursed by a lack of receiving threats. The Bucs are cursed by Tom Brady’s divorce. The Falcons are young and in need of a superior quarterback.

The Seahawks are an interesting case, because I think people would expect them to be rated higher. This is a Seattle-centric sports blog, after all. But, I still have a lot of questions about this defense. I will say that they have an opportunity to jump quite a bit higher on my list if they beat the Giants this week. That’s a quality team, and if we’re able to shut them down and get by with a victory, that will go a long way towards improving them in my mind.

I think the Cards and Raiders also have potential to move up. But, I don’t like the Colts, Bears, or Patriots. Those are all bubble teams leaning towards the lower tier.

Low Tier

24 – Washington Commanders
25 – New Orleans Saints
26 – Denver Broncos
27 – Cleveland Browns
28 – Jacksonville Jaguars
29 – Carolina Panthers
30 – Houston Texans
31 – Pittsburgh Steelers
32 – Detroit Lions

This is, of course, where I expected the Seahawks to be heading into the season. These teams are very bad and one of them will end up with the top overall draft pick next year. There could be room for improvement for the Broncos, if they ever get their offense figured out, just because their defense is so elite. But, odds are, no one in this tier will end up in the playoffs.

The Huskies Are Bowl Eligible

I’m glad I didn’t watch this game. Following along on the radio was nerve-wracking enough!

Also, I’ll say this: fuck the I Heart app and fuck KJR 93.3. First of all, it’s idiotic that we lost KUBE. Second of all, it’s even more idiotic that there’s a sports radio station on the FM band. Third of all, it’s the most fucking ridiculous thing that I can’t get access over my phone to the fucking Washington Huskies game because it thinks I’m out of the area. I was in Gig Fucking Harbor! If I was a 70 year old man who owned an actual radio, I could’ve easily gotten this game over the airwaves. But, for whatever reason I have to jump through nine hoops to get it on the Internet and lo and behold, no dice. Don’t make me download a stupid fucking app. Just let me go to a website on my phone and push a play button; fuckin’ a.

I had to find a random Port Angeles radio station website that had what I was looking for, but it took a good 20 minutes of my life I’ll never get back.

Anyway, I hear the Pac-12 Refs were in rare their usual form with some of their bullshit calls. I can’t handle that anymore. There’s enough in this life to be outraged by, I don’t need it with the stupid fucking refs who can’t do their fucking jobs. Some defensive lineman falls down and it’s automatically a holding penalty; what the fuck has the game of football come to?!

For whatever reason, the Huskies always struggle against the Cal defense. I don’t totally get it, because it’s not like they’re destroying everyone they play. Yet, year-in and year-out, they seem to hold our offense down. Now, part of that in recent seasons has been due to whoever the fuck Jimmy Lake put in charge of calling plays, compounded by mis-management of the quarterback position.

This year, we have a competent head coach, an elite offensive system, and a capable quarterback to run the whole thing. Yet, it still seemed like a struggle to get to 28 points! But, we got there – thanks to 14 points in the fourth quarter, to finally open things up – and managed to hold the Golden Bears to 21.

It’s even more impressive when you factor in how the Huskies were up only 6-0 at halftime. The defense finally came to play! Until it didn’t, giving up three TDs to Cal in their first four drives of the second half. But, we managed to stiffen up on their last two drives to hold the score exactly where it was.

Penix threw for 374 more yards (he’s had 300+ in all 8 games this year, a Husky record) and 2 TDs. That came up big, because the running game didn’t have a whole lot to show for it. Jalen McMillan led the way for the receivers with 8 for 81 and a TD.

I know just being bowl eligible isn’t any great accomplishment in college football, but considering we haven’t played in a bowl since 2019, and we haven’t really been a fun team to watch since 2018, this is noteworthy. It’s something to hang our hat on.

The downside to this season, obviously, is that it feels pretty remote that we’ll manage to claw our way to the top two, which is what we’d need to do if we want to play in the conference championship (since they’ve done away with the divisions). We don’t play USC or Utah (who both have one loss, ahead of our 3-2 Pac-12 record), so we can’t make up ground from them without help. We already lost to UCLA (the other one-loss team), so we’ll need them to really fall apart. And Oregon, of course, sits atop with a 4-0 record. Even if we did manage to go down to Oregon and defeat them (no simple task, even with our offense), we’d need them to lose a second game somewhere, and their only other tough game is at home against the Utes.

But, I guess we’d only need to get to the 2-seed, so maybe asking Oregon to lose a second game isn’t a huge priority.

That, of course, all assumes the Huskies manage to go undefeated the rest of the way. Obviously, the game in Eugene is our toughest hurdle in that respect – the other games seem pretty reasonable-to-easy – but as far as I’m concerned, beating the Ducks would be our Super Bowl. I wouldn’t give a shit about any of the other games, as long as we manage to take them down a peg.

For now, the Huskies get a much-needed BYE week. It’s the perfect time in the season; if I had it my way, all the teams would either have their BYEs after game 7 or game 8 (just split all the teams in half and get them all done in a 2-week stretch). Next up, we get a Friday Night game on November 4th, hosting the Beaves. They share our record and they share our BYE week, so there’s no real advantage for either team. I don’t know what they do well, other than beat up on the bad teams and lose to the good teams.

What I do know is that the Ducks have already had their BYE week, and they face back-to-back road games against a couple of pushovers before hosting the Huskies. We’ll have one extra day to prepare for that one, which I like. Every little bit helps.

Fun Seahawks Are Fun!

I still don’t know if I totally comprehend what happened yesterday. Though, I’ll admit, there’s a lot about this team that befuddles me.

My brain is having a hard time wrapping itself around the concept that the Seahawks are good. But also, ARE the Seahawks good? If we’re good, why did we lose at home to the Falcons and at ALL to the Saints? Is this part of the 7-10 process, where they lure us into a false sense of curiosity and wonderment, before bringing the axe down on our necks?

Or, did the Seahawks used to be mediocre, but now we’ve grown? Now, we’ve figured out how to play defense a little bit. Now, as the younger guys have had an opportunity to gain experience, we’re seeing the fruit starting to blossom.

I can’t think of a better litmus test at this point in the season than a road game against the Chargers. I like the Chargers. I think they’re pretty good. Their coaching is a little suspect at times; I think their play-calling on fourth down leaves A LOT to be desired. But, there’s a lot of talent on both sides of the ball, and the Seahawks just made mincemeat of them, 37-23.

I’ll admit, part of the reason why I’m so jazzed is because I had some fantasy football juice in this game, and after a rocky start – losing D.K. after only a single reception severely hurt my chances – my guys blew up. “My guys” being Austin Ekeler (127 total yards, 12 receptions, and 2 total TDs) and Kenneth Walker III (168 rushing yards on 23 carries and 2 TDs) whose game-sealing 74-yard touchdown almost single-handedly swung two of my games on Sunday.

The good thing for the Seahawks is that all the Chargers had was Ekeler. We pretty much held everyone else in check (though Mike Williams got his – 7 for 86 and a TD – before spraining his ankle late in the game). The defense did a lot of good things in this one. 3 sacks, a fumble recovery, and a timely pick by Ryan Neal. Moreover, Woolen and Bryant both looked outstanding, and Darrell Taylor (he of the strip sack/fumble recovery combo) is starting to come around.

The story of the day has to be the offense, though. Walker looks like the stud of all studs. So, you know, I’m just waiting for his ankle to get rolled up on, which seems to be how it goes whenever the Seahawks find a running back they really like.

Then, there’s The Resurrected Geno Smith, who’s somehow also better than he’s ever been in his life? This isn’t like a so-so quarterback being propped up by an elite team around him. This is a legitimately GOOD quarterback leading a young team to a winning record! 20 of 27 for 210 yards, 2 TDs, and 1 INT (off of a deflected ball, that was nevertheless ill-advised, since the receiver was so well covered). He had a couple of dimes to Marquise Goodwin for touchdowns, who got to have his breakout game in a Seahawks uniform (4 for 67 and 2 TDs).

The cool thing is, the Seahawks always had an answer in this one. After we went up 17-0 in the first quarter, the Chargers started clawing back, bringing it to 17-14 with plenty of time left in the second quarter. But, we cooly marched down the field and made it 24-14. More importantly, we didn’t let their 2-minute offense go anywhere in keeping that score where it was at the break.

I somehow didn’t notice, but the Seahawks had a 10+ minute drive in the third quarter to go up 27-14. That really shortened things up, but by no means discouraged further scoring. We gave up a safety after the Chargers downed a punt at the one yard line, but we proceeded to force a 3 & Out off of the free kick, then got another field goal to make it 30-14. Then, another stop by our defense led to the Kenneth Walker burst around the right side; 1 play, 74 yards, game-clinching touchdown. We gave up a meaningless garbage time TD to my boy Ekeler, but then we proceeded to run off the final three and a half minutes to end it in Victory Formation.

The obvious downside to this game is the D.K. Metcalf injury. He had his hands on a ball near the goalline, came down awkwardly, and that was it. Seems to be a knee injury. It immediately took him out for the rest of the game, no questionable tag or anything. So that’s ominous. There will be further testing today, and it sounds like he’s optimistic this won’t be a big deal, but I have concerns!

Namely: Dee Eskridge fucking sucks, and it’s ridiculous that he’s getting as much playing time as he’s getting. He had a stupid penalty, he fumbled a toss by taking his eyes off the ball (though they credited it to Geno, which is asinine), he had zero catches on one target, and he had a meaningless fly-sweep run for 4 yards. This is what he’s here for? The stupid fly-sweep play that never works because it’s the NFL and everyone is fast? He’s brittle as fuck, every hit looks like it’s going to end his season, and I can’t shake the feeling that he’s keeping someone else off the field who is more deserving and who has a higher ceiling. All because we threw away the 2021 draft (where we only selected three guys) and he was our top pick that year.

This team will STRUGGLE if we don’t have Metcalf for the rest of the year. I’m just telling you that right now. Tyler Lockett is and has always been a really good #2, but he’s also getting older, and in spite of avoiding contact at practically every turn (smart, in his case; prolong that career!), he still found himself on the injury report and questionable all week. I love Marquise Goodwin, and as long as he’s healthy, he can be an elite #3. But, he hasn’t been able play a full season since 2017. He WILL get hurt, it’s only a matter of time. It was nice having him in this game, with Metcalf out. But, he could go down as early as next week and it wouldn’t shock me.

That leaves Eskridge (again, sucks) and the rookies at receiver. That makes this team much more predictable and easier to handle if it’s left to the running game and tight ends to do all the heavy lifting. Metcalf is the difference-maker. Metcalf forces defenses to spend untold time and resources in an effort to try and stop him. He takes the best cornerback off of Lockett, who is free to get open among lesser opponents. He opens up the tight ends to feast off of linebackers and linemen. He makes Geno Smith better than he is. Sure, Geno was able to weather the storm against the Chargers, but long term? I’d be very nervous. And I’m not just saying that because I have Metcalf in my dynasty league and don’t want to see him miss any time ever.

Now what we’re looking at is a step up in our litmus tests: a home game against the one-loss Giants. They appear to be the exact photo negative of the Chargers: they’re still good, but it has everything to do with the coaching, and less to do with the talent at quarterback, my apologies to Danny Dimes and whatnot.

If you thought I was befuddled by the Seahawks, HOO BOY do I not understand these Giants!

I would say their schedule has a lot to do with their 6-1 record, but I’m not so sure. Of course, they beat up on the Panthers, Bears, and Jaguars. But, they also defeated the Titans, Packers, and Ravens. I know those teams aren’t as spectacular as we all expected heading into the season, but I still believe they’ll all either be in the playoffs this year, or at least in contention to the bitter end.

They play largely mistake-free football. Dimes doesn’t throw a lot, but he’s running pretty well for a quarterback, and only has 2 picks against 6 TDs. They rely largely on their running game, featuring a rejuvenated Saquon Barkley, who has 726 yards and a 5.1 average per carry. He’s also pacing the team in targets with 30 and is second in receiving yards. He hasn’t played a healthy, full season since his rookie year of 2018, but he’s showing why his talent made him the 2nd overall draft pick.

So, you know, easy peasy, right? Stop Saquon Barkley, win the game! Simple! Why haven’t all these other teams thought of that?

The interesting thing is that their defense isn’t all that amazing. They’re middle of the road against the pass, and legitimately bad against the run. Yet, they allow the 6th fewest points in the league, making good on that Bend Don’t Break promise.

For the Seahawks to win, just know that Barkley is probably going to get his. But, you have to make him work for it. You can’t get gashed for huge plays all day long. You also need to put Danny Dimes into 3rd & medium-to-long situations and force him to beat you with his arm. We know how to play against mobile quarterbacks, so I would hope we can apply that wealth of knowledge to this game.

I don’t think there’s any way we get this game in a shootout. I think it’s going to be low-ish scoring and close. One way or the other, the winner will be decided by 3 points or less.

How about this for making a guess: if D.K. Metcalf is healthy and plays this week, the Seahawks will win. If he’s out, the Seahawks will lose. Either way, the score will be 20-17.

What I’d Like To See The Mariners Do This Offseason

It’s impossible to predict the fluctuation of outcomes from individual players year over year. A guy might’ve had a great 2022, then all of a sudden goes in the tank due to injuries, private personal matters, or just total randomness. Baseball can be INFURIATING in that respect.

That being said, there doesn’t appear to be quite as many holes to fill this offseason as usual. Coming off of back-to-back 90-win seasons – the latest being a playoff run into the ALDS – that’s a good problem to have. It’s also one we’re not used to experiencing, as Mariners fans. I almost don’t know what to do with myself!

The starting rotation, for instance, looks to be set, barring trades. My hunch on the order goes like this:

  • Luis Castillo (R)
  • Logan Gilbert (R)
  • Robbie Ray (L)
  • George Kirby (R)
  • Marco Gonzales (L)

Is it perfect? No. But, I think the top end is good-to-elite, and I think the two lefties are solid innings eaters. The depth beyond those five guys is a little suspect, as I don’t know if any of our upcoming minor league starters are ready to ascend (or will even be with the club, since they present as our biggest trade chips), but we at least should have Chris Flexen around as a long relief arm/injury replacement starter.

I would say the bullpen is largely set too, though of course there’s room to tinker. We’ve got the following arms under contract (among a host of others):

  • Andres Munoz
  • Paul Sewald
  • Erik Swanson
  • Matt Brash
  • Diego Castillo
  • Penn Murfee
  • Matt Festa

We probably need another left-handed reliever or two, but that’s what Spring Training is there for. We go out and find underappreciated rejects and turn them into monster relievers. I’m sure there are guys out on the scrap heap looking to turn their careers around in Seattle.

The major holes are where you’d expect: the everyday lineup.

Right off the bat, Mitch Haniger, Carlos Santana, and Adam Frazier are all free agents. That’s your starting right fielder, DH, and second baseman. Then, there’s the whole Jesse Winker fiasco, so you’re probably looking at a need to replace your left fielder.

Coming at it from the other direction, we look solid-to-great at center field (Julio), third base (Suarez), first base (France), catcher (Raleigh), and short stop or second base (Crawford).

Internal depth pieces include Kelenic, Toro, Lewis, Haggerty, Moore, Trammell, and Torrens. I don’t think we should be confident in any of those guys. I like Haggerty a lot, but I wonder if he’ll get exposed the more he plays. I like Kyle Lewis a lot, but he can’t stay healthy with his chronic knee issues that probably prevent him from playing everyday outside of DH (and, considering how bad he was at the plate this year, you have to wonder if he even has value with his bat anymore). Trammell, Toro, and Torrens all look to be Quad-A players not to be trusted with starting jobs. And Kelenic is the real wild card in all of this. Highly touted, highly regarded throughout his minor league career, but definitely stalled out at the Major League level. Is it possible for him to figure it out? Of course. But, will he do so in a Mariners uniform? That’s a huge question.

It’s frustrating to see so much of the outfield in flux, because that looked like our area of greatest strength. It was supposed to be Julio, Lewis, and Kelenic for the next 5-10 years. Now, it looks like we’ve hit on 1 out of 3.

I’d love for Mitch Haniger to stick around, but clearly he too can’t stay healthy. The smarter play feels like we should let him move on to another team. Which is a tough pill to swallow, because he’s exactly the kind of guy you want. Works hard, plays quality outfield defense, hits for good average and power when he’s healthy, great teammate. But, if he’s spending more time in the training room than out on the field, that’s not a guy you can count on.

I’m already at the point where I think Winker needs to go, but his value has taken such a sharp hit this year, I don’t know what you’d get in return. The smart play might be to get rid of him anyway, because his attitude and alleged lack of work ethic might be a bigger detriment than whatever good we might squeeze out of positive regression, but I can see why the organization might want to avoid having to replace BOTH corner outfield spots. There’s also the chance that, you know, his severe surgical injuries might have hampered him just a bit. So, maybe he’s on the short list for a bit of positive regression.

Even though the Mariners are in the best spot they’ve been in since 2001, it’s not like this is an EASY fix. Two outfielders, one middle-infielder, and one big bat to DH and maybe help out in the field on occasion.

I think the middle infielder is the key. I think we have to sign one of the big bats that hit the market in free agency to either play short stop (and move Crawford over to second) or second base. From there, I think you take a shot in free agency at a quality outfielder, but more likely will have to make a trade for that guy. Then, as for the other outfielder, I think you maybe find someone to platoon, with the other platoon partner being an internal candidate (either Kelenic, Haggerty, or Moore, whoever produces best in Spring Training). As for the DH, find some vet akin to Carlos Santana (only maybe slightly younger and more spry) who can fill in at first base in a pinch, to give France regular days off to DH in his place.

The Mariners should have a decent amount of money to play around with, so I’m hoping there’s at least one big splash. The trade candidates can be guys with 1-2 years left. Maybe we can flip Winker for someone else’s problem, in a greener pastures sort of situation.

The big story this offseason is where will Aaron Judge go. He’s going to get half a billion dollars, easy. Is that someone I’d want in a Mariners uniform? I dunno, how well did it go the last time we signed away a former Yankees superstar?

Here’s the deal: I would be thrilled if the Mariners signed Judge to play right field. As we all would. In the short term, pairing him with Julio and the other guys on our roster is only going to make them the most formidable pairing in baseball. But, there’s a reason why his numbers have been so insane with the Yankees, and that’s because he plays half his game in Yankee Stadium. Hitting homers there is as easy as breathing. If he moves to Seattle, expect a DRAMATIC downturn in his number of homers. He hit 60+ this year? You might bank on him hitting 40+ with the Mariners. I’d say the 30-40 range is more likely. And that’s assuming he stays healthy.

Of course, long term, I think that contract will be a disaster. What worries me is if it’s a disaster from the start. Think Albert Pujols when he joined the Angels. He went downhill almost immediately, and they had to endure a decade of his creaky knees.

I’d rather put that money into a short stop who’s a better long-term fit, and then trade for a value bat in the outfield. That’s easier said than done, obviously. But, I will say that now that we’ve had this success, and we’ve got a lot of our core locked up, Seattle is a more attractive place to come and play. Obviously, it’s not perfect. There’s a lot of travel involved. The home park isn’t easy, especially in the colder months. But, locating the right guys who fit our dynamic and what we’re trying to do offensively will be critical to getting over the hump.

As Napster guy said to Facebook guy in The Social Network, “The wild card isn’t cool. You know what’s cool? Winning the division and getting a top two seed.”

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2022: Finally A Victory

It was an upset to end all upsets, in a week full of them across the NFL. RoundTine FINALLY got on the winning train, defeating Sloane N Steady 141.85 to 127.00.

All praise to Bailey Zappe, who already kind of strikes me as a superior option to Mac Jones. Now, I’ve got to worry about holding onto Zappe for as long as I can, just in case Bill Belichick opts to go with the less-heralded quarterback in the future. What has Mac Jones done to earn his job, other than be a first round pick? Based on my team’s fantasy numbers, not a whole helluva lot.

Zappe’s 25 points, combined with the 20 I got from Fields, gave me competent quarterback play for the first time all year. But, I couldn’t have done it without a ridiculous under-performance from my opponent, who had bad weeks from the likes of Aaron Rodgers, Zach Wilson, Mike Evans, and Nick Chubb (one of those guys isn’t like the others). It was such a random freak occurrence that I didn’t need to pick up a replacement tight end at all! Good, because with the need to roster yet another quarterback, I wasn’t going to anyway.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still safely in last place in the league, but my 1-5 record is tied with two other teams. It’s a real Gods N’ Clods kind of season, with three teams tied for first with a 5-1 record.

Here’s who I’ve got going this week:

  • QB Patriots (QB) @ Cle
  • QB Saints (QB) @ Ari
  • CeeDee Lamb (WR) vs. Det
  • D.K. Metcalf (WR) @ LAC
  • Ezekiel Elliott (RB) vs. Det
  • Kenneth Walker (RB) @ LAC
  • T.J. Hockenson (TE) @ Dal
  • Brian Robinson (RB) vs. GB
  • Evan McPherson (K) vs. Atl
  • TBD (DEF) vs. TBD

I’m looking to pick up Andy Dalton if/when Jameis Winston is declared out. That’s going to be a problem, of course, if they don’t declare him out, and just have him as the backup. At which point, I won’t have him to throw in my IR spot, which means I’ll be reduced to starting Justin Fields. Why don’t I just cut Justin Fields and pick up Dalton? Because one of them is a young, highly-rated player out of college last year, and the other is Andy Fucking Dalton. I’m not getting rid of the young guy with upside for a past-his-prime loser. We’re not playing for this week, we’re playing for the Consolation Bracket.

I’ve got Gabe Davis on a BYE, which isn’t the end of the world. I’m going with Robinson over Doubs, which might be a huge mistake, but I haven’t seen much of anything from Doubs in quite some time. However, I’ve also got the Rams’ defense on a BYE, which may necessitate a move of some kind. If I can’t pick up Dalton, I’ll look to fill that spot with a defense and try to get a full roster of guys going.

I did end up cutting Garrett Wilson to get out of the IR quagmire, so expect him to finally return to kicking ass and taking names. If this fuckface turns into a superstar, I’m going to lose my fucking mind.

I’m going up against another 1-5 team, The Lance Petemans. He’s the once-proud winner of our championship trophy multiple times over, going through a rough patch. Here’s his projected lineup:

  • Jared Goff (QB) @ Dal
  • Ryan Tannehill (QB) vs. Ind
  • Tyreek Hill (WR) vs. Pit
  • DeAndre Hopkins (WR) vs. NO
  • Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB) @ SF
  • James Robinson (RB) vs. NYG
  • Gerald Everett (TE) vs. Sea
  • Keenan Allen (WR) vs. Sea
  • Nick Folk (K) vs. Chi
  • Dallas (DEF) vs. Det

He’s a wee bit injury-ravaged, and while his quarterback problems aren’t nearly as pronounced as mine, he’s still looking for upgrades at both spots. We’ll be seeing each other again most likely in the Consolation Bracket later this year, so I’m sure if my luck holds, I’ll win this week and lose when it matters most. Or, I’ll lose both times! Anything is possible! Any of those two things are possible.

2022 Seattle Mariners: In Memoriam

It’s fun to look back at my prediction post to see what I thought about the Mariners heading into the season. Long story short: I was right about some guys, VERY wrong about some guys, and I had this team pegged as an 84-win squad who would go on to miss the playoffs once again.

It’s funny how this season ebbed and flowed. We started out 11-6, which kind of gets lost in the shuffle in the narrative to this season, because the next stretch was so terrible. As late as June 19th, we were infamously 10 games under .500 at 29-39 (meaning in that span of almost two months, we went 18-33). Then, amazingly, we finished the year 61-33 (winning at a .649 clip), including a 14-game winning streak to close out the first half. This was a year removed from another 90-win Mariners team who had a pretty shabby record in May/June before turning it on the rest of the way. The main difference is that we had three wild card teams to go along with three divisional winners making the playoffs in each league. So, this time around, 90 wins was just enough.

There are so many fun storylines that came along this year, with the top being Julio Rodriguez. He’s a superstar! He’s the superstar we’ve been waiting for since Ken Griffey Jr. left. He hits for average (.284), he hits for power (28 homers, 25 doubles, 3 triples), he steals bases (25 against 7 caught stealing), he plays tremendous defense in center field, and he’s by all accounts a fantastic leader and teammate. He’s everything you could want in a 6-WAR player, and oh by the way, he also had an absolutely atrocious month of April before figuring out how to play at this level. Meaning he did all he did in 5 months, which is absolutely incredible. He’s your American League Rookie of the Year, and unlike the last Mariners ROY (Kyle Lewis), he figures to play at a high level for many years to come (hence the humongous mega-deal he signed during the season).

You know who else was a really cool story? Cal Raleigh! He struggled in 2021, and was off to another rough start in 2022, to the point where he was briefly sent back down to Tacoma to work on some things. He ultimately was forced to return due to catcher injuries, but this time he made the most of it. He doesn’t hit for much average, but he was among the best catchers in the game with his power (27 homers, 20 doubles, and one improbable triple) and he obviously has a great defensive game (both in handling pitchers as well as throwing runners out and pitch-framing). As far as Pleasant Surprises go, he’s way up there for me and a lot of Mariners fans.

Another guy I wasn’t expecting a ton from was Eugenio Suarez. I wondered – as did many people – if his best days weren’t behind him. Instead, he was probably the best version of what he can be: a 4-WAR player who hit 31 homers, 24 doubles, and 2 triples. He also played very good defense at third base, and is amazingly an upgrade over what we had with Kyle Seager over the last few years. His batting average isn’t stupendous, but his on-base percentage is very good.

One more pleasant surprise before we get to the guys we expected to be good, and that’s Sam Haggerty. It’s a rough go that he wasn’t able to make it to the playoffs – suffering a major injury in the final week of the regular season – but as a bench guy, he finished with 2.2 WAR. It got to the point that he forced his way into an almost-everyday role on this team (bouncing around from various outfield AND infield spots) through sheer grit and talent. I don’t know what his role is long-term, but he’s one of those guys every playoff team needs: someone who hits for average, plays amazing defense, and will steal you a money bag in a pinch.

We got Ty France and J.P. Crawford through almost a full season intact, and they produced about as well as you’d expect, with 3.0 and 2.8 WAR respectively. I think you’d still look to improve at one of the middle infield spots this offseason (potentially moving J.P. over to second), but you have to like what both of these guys give you, as far as leadership and production go. Ultimately, you wonder how both of them will handle the rigors of a full season (as nagging injuries seem to creep in and sap their effectiveness as the season wears on), but for now I have no complaints.

Finally, pour one out for Mitch Haniger and Carlos Santana. Both were on the final years of their respective deals (Santana was a trade acquisition who didn’t hit a lot, but when he did, they seemed to be in the biggest of moments). Santana is probably washed as an everyday bat, while Haniger proved once again that he can’t stay healthy for a full (or multiple) season(s). I would say Haniger was great while he was in there, but even with his 1.4 WAR across 57 games, he still went in the tank for long stretches (and didn’t really give us much in the playoffs).

As far as pitching goes, there are plenty of kudos to go around. Logan Gilbert led the squad in WAR with 3.2. He built on his impressive rookie season with an even better one, throwing 185.2 innings in 32 starts. It looks like Gilbert is going to be a workhorse for many years to come.

On Gilbert’s heels came George Kirby, who had a similar rookie year this year to Gilbert’s last year: very restricted innings, yet still impressive output. What Kirby had this year – which Gilbert never got a chance to show last year – was a phenomenal playoff run. You would expect Kirby to have a similar increase in his innings next year, followed by the training wheels coming all the way off in 2024.

Luis Castillo was our big deadline acquisition, and he showed why the cost was worth it. To the point that he earned himself a long-term extension to stick around and be this team’s ace for the foreseeable future. He’s like a harder-throwing Felix with a similarly-impressive change up.

Robbie Ray was the leader of the pitchers throughout the year, but he had a number of rough patches to endure. His start was rocky as hell, until he started incorporating his 2-seam fastball. That led to improved results, but ultimately it seemed like he struggled against better teams. I don’t know what tweaks are in his future, but he’s going to need to rein in his command if he’s going to be worth the huge wad of money the Mariners are giving him over the next few years.

The rotation was wildly healthy this year, which is pretty insane. Marco Gonzales did Marco Gonzales things, finishing pretty well in line with his career norms, throwing 183 innings across 32 starts, and being about league average as you can get. Chris Flexen also did Chris Flexen things, and earned himself a nice little bump in pay in 2023 (to be this team’s long reliever, I guess, if he’s not traded at some point).

The bullpen – for the second year in a row – was this team’s heart and soul, and they needed every bit of the talent on offer. What’s interesting is that – aside from Sewald – we got it from a gaggle of new guys. Andres Munoz was the obvious breakout star, throwing 100+, with a 90+ slider. But, Erik Swanson dramatically improved his game, Penn Murfee was a nice surprise, Matt Festa was a competent arm, Diego Castillo got better once he was dropped from the highest-leverage spots, and Matt Brash was a revelation once the team demoted him from starter to reliever. If Brash sticks with relief, I think the sky is the limit with this kid, which is great news when you figure he’ll slot alongside Munoz and Sewald for the next few years at least.

It wasn’t all sunshine and lollipops for the 2022 Mariners, though.

I think it’s pretty safe to say that Jesse Winker was this team’s biggest disappointment. He came over in that first big trade with the Reds (alongside Suarez), and everyone pegged Winker as the cornerstone of that deal. For good reason, because all Winker has done is produce at the plate in his Major League career. Especially in 2021, when he played at an All Star level.

Winker’s production fell dramatically this year. He suffered the Seattle curse. At home, his slash line was .203/.331/.294; on the road, it was dramatically higher: .232/.354/.382. 10 of his 14 homers came on the road. Ironically, the book on him was that he struggled against lefties but crushed righties; however that flipped for some bizarre reason in 2022. Across the board he was better against lefties, which is crazy to me!

The final nail in the coffin appears to be his work ethic, and his chemistry in the clubhouse as a result of that (lack of) work ethic. I’ll say this: I agree with Divish, I don’t think he looks very strong or athletic whatsoever. His defense isn’t just mediocre, it’s an outright liability. Sure, his eye at the plate is pretty strong, but you can’t build a career on crap defense and walks. That’s not going to work on a team that has a razor-thin margin for error when it comes to our offensive struggles at times. This is a team with a whole lotta alpha dogs who are in it to win it. I don’t know what Winker’s vibe is exactly – he struck me as an easygoing, comedy relief type of presence, but I don’t know if that’s totally accurate given the RBF we’ve come to witness so often – but clearly it doesn’t mesh with this team. Either he gets traded, or they try to make it work with an offseason meeting of the minds. My hunch is we cut and run, though I hope there’s at least a little value, since I think his bat would play in a friendlier offensive environment.

Adam Frazier was also a pretty significant offseason acquisition that was also a major disappointment. You bring in a guy like Frazier for his high batting average and on-base percentage. Competent defense at second and in the corner outfield is a bonus, but he’s supposed to be a regular baserunner for other guys to hit in. That’s what makes his 2022 season so befuddling, because his bat SHOULD play anywhere he goes. We’re not relying on him to be a dynamic power source like Winker, we just want him standing on first base for other guys to knock him around. He only turned 30 this year, so he should still be close enough to his prime to be effective. But, regardless, he started in a pretty deep hole and could never fully get out of it, in spite of occasional hot stretches. As I mentioned, there’s room for improvement up the middle, but that was always going to be the case. Frazier was on a 1-year deal, so we were going to have to look to fill this spot either way. Between left field and second base, we need to find at least ONE bigtime bat to help prop up this offense to get closer to league-average in scoring.

I’ll just rattle off really quickly: the other major disappointments were Luis Torrens, Abraham Toro, and Jarred Kelenic.

Kelenic had a fantastic finish to his 2021 season, which gave us all hope that he’d be here to stay in 2022. Instead, he sucked hard in the early going, spent MOST of the year down in Tacoma, had a nice little blip in the last couple weeks of the regular season, but ultimately wasn’t able to continue that through the playoffs. There’s still a lot he needs to do to be a more consistent Major League presence, and I just don’t know if he’s ever going to stick in Seattle.

Toro was a deadline acquisition in 2021 who has had a number of big hits in clutch moments, but by and large he’s been atrocious. He had to play for the Mariners quite a bit this year due to injuries and ineffectiveness around the roster, but he’s a huge wad of nothing. Time to move on.

Torrens, we thought, figured out his bat in 2021, and was supposed to be a steady middle-of-the-order type of guy, either as a backup catcher, or as this team’s DH. But, once again, he fell off the map and found himself DFA’d. He passed through without anyone claiming him, so we were able to get him to Tacoma until late in the regular season, when he returned to Seattle (with Raleigh’s injury issues) and saw an uptick in his offensive production again. I couldn’t tell you what his future holds, but I’ll go out on a limb and say the Mariners need improvement at backup catcher.

I don’t have a ton of complaints about the pitching. Again, it would be nice if Robbie Ray was better against good teams, since we clearly need him if we’re going to make it back to the playoffs. It was also disconcerting to see Sewald get beaten around so much late in the year. But, other than some minor quibbles, most of the guys who sucked (Steckenrider sure didn’t last long, did he?) were jettisoned in a timely fashion.

The overarching analysis for the 2022 Mariners is a rousing success. We made the playoffs for the first time since 2001! Even if it was last year’s playoff format, we would have made it to the Wild Card play-in game, and we would have prevailed to advance to the ALDS. So, I’m not taking anything away from the Mariners. Quite frankly, it’s insane there haven’t been more playoff teams for a while now. After a 162-game season, there needs to be proper representation! There are so many good teams in baseball who deserve a shot every year, why deprive markets of fun opportunities?

This is a team that outperformed expectations. It’s also a team that can easily keep things going, barring injuries. A couple of key additions should leave us contending for the A.L. West next year. And, as long as we don’t totally strip the farm system, there should be enough studs coming up through the pipeline – especially on the pitching side – to keep us playing at a high level for years to come.

The last time the Mariners were good, we had a nice 9-year run of success. Unfortunately, in that span, we only made it to the postseason 4 times, and never advanced beyond the ALCS. That needs to change here. Hopefully, we have the talent and the scouting to make the leap. It’s time for the Mariners – the only team to never play for a world championship – to make the World Series. Will that happen in 2023? A lot would have to go right, but I wouldn’t dismiss it out of hand. Of course, the odds are super long. But, it’s just nice to have a fun baseball team to root for again. It’s been FAR too long!

The Seahawks Actually Played A Little Defense!

A 19-9 Seahawks victory over the Cardinals is not what I was expecting. Not in the least. I read something on Twitter about an interview with Pete Carroll before the game, and he was talking about how they worked on a few tweaks for the defense that he was expecting to pay immediate dividends, but how many times have you heard that in your life? And how many times has it actually come true?

I wouldn’t say the Cardinals are great, not by a longshot. But, they know how to move the football. Sure, they’re a little banged up, and Hopkins won’t be back until NEXT week, but they’ve put up points in bunches against much better defenses than ours. Yet, in this one, they scored all of three points on offense (the other six were a special teams touchdown on a botched punt).

You’ll forgive me if this was a bit of a hangover game. Not literally, but with the Mariners going 18 innings on Saturday in losing to the Astros, I really wasn’t in the mood to watch the Seahawks on Sunday. Turns out, I didn’t miss a whole lot.

The take-away from this game is just how good this rookie class is for the Seahawks. We haven’t seen rookies produce at this level since You Know When.

For starters, Kenneth Walker III ascended to his rightful spot as this team’s #1 running back. So, everyone who held onto him in fantasy through the first five weeks (including me in two leagues, one of them a dynasty league) got handsomely rewarded. 97 yards on 21 carries with a TD, plus 2 catches for 13 yards. Those aren’t eye-popping numbers, but apparently he passed the eye test with flying colors. He just LOOKS like what a #1 running back is supposed to look like, which means – if he can stay healthy – he should be good for a long time.

Tariq Woolen is not-so-quietly having a monster season. That’s his 4th interception in his 4th consecutive game for the 5th round pick. We all knew he was super athletic and fast coming out of college, but to be this fundamentally sound and able to make these kinds of plays (as someone mentioned on Twitter, these aren’t cheap INTs off of deflections and whatnot) is truly remarkable! I didn’t know if the Seahawks were capable of coaching up young DBs anymore, given our lack of success since You Know When. But, he looks like a star!

Speaking of coaching up DBs, Coby Bryant is coming along swimmingly. That’s 4 forced fumbles in his last five games for the 4th round pick. It certainly looks like he’s the answer to our nickel corner woes, but I also wouldn’t put it past him to slide over as the other outside corner.

Then, you’ve got the steady excellence of Charles Cross and Abe Lucas on the O-Line, topped off with Boye Mafe being a fine-looking role player on defense who figures to get a longer look as others continue to disappoint on the edge. If we can get either of our 7th round wide receivers into the mix, that’s practically a Yahtzee!

So, the Seahawks were able to get consistent pressure on defense, which has been the biggest bugaboo this year. 6 sacks, 10 tackles for loss. More importantly, the run defense looked much better. Arizona running backs only netted 44 yards on 18 carries. Granted, Kyler Murray had 100 yards on 10 carries, but one of them was a 42-yard scramble. At this point, even that is an improvement over the consistent gashing teams have exposed us to.

I’ll say it, that was an impressive defensive performance! We’ll have to see how well that carries over; we go on the road to play the high-flying Chargers offense next week, so I’m dubious about us fixing all of our problems in one week’s time.

I’m less-thrilled with the Geno Smith performance. 20/31 for 197 yards. We were 4/15 on third/fourth downs. That’s two weeks in a row of subpar work on the most crucial of downs. The Chargers are no slouch on defense – with lots of quality stars on that side of the ball – so consider next week another big test.

I can’t imagine the Seahawks prevail. I think we’re actually in for a pretty big stinker. I’m thinking something like 34-17 Chargers.